The Affair at the Semiramis Hotel by A.E.W. Mason
BOOK 2 IN THE INSPECTOR HANAUD SERIES
First published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1917
Collected in The Four Corners Of The World, 1917
Mr. Ricardo, when the excitements of the Villa Rose were done with,
returned to Grosvenor Square and resumed the busy, unnecessary life of an
amateur. But the studios had lost their savour, artists their attractiveness,
and even the Russian opera seemed a trifle flat. Life was altogether a
disappointment; Fate, like an actress at a restaurant, had taken the wooden
pestle in her hand and stirred all the sparkle out of the champagne; Mr.
Ricardo languished--until one unforgettable morning.
He was sitting disconsolately at his breakfast-table when the door was
burst open and a square, stout man, with the blue, shaven face of a French
comedian, flung himself into the room. Ricardo sprang towards the new-comer
with a cry of delight.
"My dear Hanaud!"
He seized his visitor by the arm, feeling it to make sure that here, in
flesh and blood, stood the man who had introduced him to the acutest
sensations of his life. He turned towards his butler, who was still bleating
expostulations in the doorway at the unceremonious irruption of the French
"Another place, Burton, at once," he cried, and as soon as he and Hanaud
were alone: "What good wind blows you to London?"
"Business, my friend. The disappearance of bullion somewhere on the line
between Paris and London. But it is finished. Yes, I take a holiday."
A light had suddenly flashed in Mr. Ricardo's eyes, and was now no less
suddenly extinguished. Hanaud paid no attention whatever to his friend's
disappointment. He pounced upon a piece of silver which adorned the
tablecloth and took it over to the window.
"Everything is as it should be, my friend," he exclaimed, with a grin.
"Grosvenor Square, the Times open at the money column, and a false
antique upon the table. Thus I have dreamed of you. All Mr. Ricardo is in
Ricardo laughed nervously. Recollection made him wary of Hanaud's
sarcasms. He was shy even to protest the genuineness of his silver. But,
indeed, he had not the time. For the door opened again and once more the
butler appeared. On this occasion, however, he was alone.
"Mr. Calladine would like to speak to you, sir," he said.
"Calladine!" cried Ricardo in an extreme surprise. "That is the most
extraordinary thing." He looked at the clock upon his mantelpiece. It was
barely half-past eight. "At this hour, too?"
"Mr. Calladine is still wearing evening dress," the butler remarked.
Ricardo started in his chair. He began to dream of possibilities; and here
was Hanaud miraculously at his side.
"Where is Mr. Calladine?" he asked.
"I have shown him into the library."
"Good," said Mr. Ricardo. "I will come to him."
But he was in no hurry. He sat and let his thoughts play with this
incident of Calladine's early visit.
"It is very odd," he said. "I have not seen Calladine for months--no, nor
has anyone. Yet, a little while ago, no one was more often seen."
He fell apparently into a muse, but he was merely seeking to provoke
Hanaud's curiosity. In this attempt, however, he failed. Hanaud continued
placidly to eat his breakfast, so that Mr. Ricardo was compelled to volunteer
the story which he was burning to tell.
"Drink your coffee, Hanaud, and you shall hear about Calladine."
Hanaud grunted with resignation, and Mr. Ricardo flowed on:
"Calladine was one of England's young men. Everybody said so. He was going
to do very wonderful things as soon as he had made up his mind exactly what
sort of wonderful things he was going to do. Meanwhile, you met him in
Scotland, at Newmarket, at Ascot, at Cowes, in the box of some great lady at
the Opera--not before half-past ten in the evening there--in any fine
house where the candles that night happened to be lit. He went everywhere,
and then a day came and he went nowhere. There was no scandal, no trouble,
not a whisper against his good name. He simply vanished. For a little while a
few people asked: 'What has become of Calladine?' But there never was any
answer, and London has no time for unanswered questions. Other promising
young men dined in his place. Calladine had joined the huge legion of the
Come-to-nothings. No one even seemed to pass him in the street. Now
unexpectedly, at half-past eight in the morning, and in evening dress, he
calls upon me. 'Why?' I ask myself."
Mr. Ricardo sank once more into a reverie. Hanaud watched him with a
broadening smile of pure enjoyment.
"And in time, I suppose," he remarked casually, "you will perhaps ask
Mr. Ricardo sprang out of his pose to his feet.
"Before I discuss serious things with an acquaintance," he said with a
scathing dignity, "I make it a rule to revive my impressions of his
personality. The cigarettes are in the crystal box."
"They would be," said Hanaud, unabashed, as Ricardo stalked from the room.
But in five minutes Mr. Ricardo came running back, all his composure
"It is the greatest good fortune that you, my friend, should have chosen
this morning to visit me," he cried, and Hanaud nodded with a little grimace
"There goes my holiday. You shall command me now and always. I will make
the acquaintance of your young friend."
He rose up and followed Ricardo into his study, where a young man was
nervously pacing the floor.
"Mr. Calladine," said Ricardo. "This is Mr. Hanaud."
The young man turned eagerly. He was tall, with a noticeable elegance and
distinction, and the face which he showed to Hanaud was, in spite of its
agitation, remarkably handsome.
"I am very glad," he said. "You are not an official of this country. You
can advise--without yourself taking action, if you'll be so good."
Hanaud frowned. He bent his eyes uncompromisingly upon Calladine.
"What does that mean?" he asked, with a note of sternness in his
"It means that I must tell someone," Calladine burst out in quivering
tones. "That I don't know what to do. I am in a difficulty too big for me.
That's the truth."
Hanaud looked at the young man keenly. It seemed to Ricardo that he took
in every excited gesture, every twitching feature, in one comprehensive
glance. Then he said in a friendlier voice:
"Sit down and tell me"--and he himself drew up a chair to the table.
"I was at the Semiramis last night," said Calladine, naming one of the
great hotels upon the Embankment. "There was a fancy-dress ball."
All this happened, by the way, in those far-off days before the
war--nearly, in fact, three years ago today--when London, flinging aside its
reticence, its shy self-consciousness, had become a city of carnivals and
masquerades, rivalling its neighbours on the Continent in the spirit of its
gaiety, and exceeding them by its stupendous luxury. "I went by the merest
chance. My rooms are in the Adelphi Terrace."
"There!" cried Mr. Ricardo in surprise, and Hanaud lifted a hand to check
"Yes," continued Calladine. "The night was warm, the music floated through
my open windows and stirred old memories. I happened to have a ticket. I
Calladine drew up a chair opposite to Hanaud and, seating himself, told,
with many nervous starts and in troubled tones, a story which, to Mr.
Ricardo's thinking, was as fabulous as any out of the "Arabian Nights."
"I had a ticket," he began, "but no domino. I was consequently stopped by
an attendant in the lounge at the top of the staircase leading down to the
"'You can hire a domino in the cloakroom, Mr. Calladine,' he said to me. I
had already begun to regret the impulse which had brought me, and I welcomed
the excuse with which the absence of a costume provided me. I was, indeed,
turning back to the door, when a girl who had at that moment run down from
the stairs of the hotel into the lounge, cried gaily: 'That's not necessary';
and at the same moment she flung to me a long scarlet cloak which she had
been wearing over her own dress. She was young, fair, rather tall, slim, and
very pretty; her hair was drawn back from her face with a ribbon, and rippled
down her shoulders in heavy curls; and she was dressed in a satin coat and
knee-breeches of pale green and gold, with a white waistcoat and silk
stockings and scarlet heels to her satin shoes. She was as straight-limbed as
a boy, and exquisite like a figure in Dresden china. I caught the cloak and
turned to thank her. But she did not wait. With a laugh she ran down the
stairs a supple and shining figure, and was lost in the throng at the doorway
of the ballroom. I was stirred by the prospect of an adventure. I ran down
after her. She was standing just inside the room alone, and she was gazing at
the scene with parted lips and dancing eyes. She laughed again as she saw the
cloak about my shoulders, a delicious gurgle of amusement, and I said to
"'May I dance with you?'
"'Oh, do!' she cried, with a little jump, and clasping her hands. She was
of a high and joyous spirit and not difficult in the matter of an
introduction. 'This gentleman will do very well to present us,' she said,
leading me in front of a bust of the God Pan which stood in a niche of the
wall. 'I am, as you see, straight out of an opera. My name is Celymène or
anything with an eighteenth century sound to it. You are--what you will. For
this evening we are friends.'
"'And for to-morrow?' I asked.
"'I will tell you about that later on,' she replied, and she began to
dance with a light step and a passion in her dancing which earned me many an
envious glance from the other men. I was in luck, for Celymène knew no one,
and though, of course, I saw the faces of a great many people whom I
remembered, I kept them all at a distance. We had been dancing for about half
an hour when the first queerish thing happened. She stopped suddenly in the
midst of a sentence with a little gasp. I spoke to her, but she did not hear.
She was gazing past me, her eyes wide open, and such a rapt look upon her
face as I had never seen. She was lost in a miraculous vision. I followed the
direction of her eyes and, to my astonishment, I saw nothing more than a
stout, short, middle-aged woman, egregiously over-dressed as Marie
"'So you do know someone here?' I said, and I had to repeat the words
sharply before my friend withdrew her eyes. But even then she was not aware
of me. It was as if a voice had spoken to her whilst she was asleep and had
disturbed, but not wakened her. Then she came to--there's really no other
word I can think of which describes her at that moment--she came to with a
"'No,' she answered. 'She is a Mrs. Blumenstein from Chicago, a widow with
ambitions and a great deal of money. But I don't know her.'
"'Yet you know all about her,' I remarked.
"'She crossed in the same boat with me,' Celymène replied. 'Did I tell you
that I landed at Liverpool this morning? She is staying at the Semiramis too.
Oh, let us dance!'
"She twitched my sleeve impatiently, and danced with a kind of violence
and wildness as if she wished to banish some sinister thought. And she did
undoubtedly banish it. We supped together and grew confidential, as under
such conditions people will. She told me her real name. It was Joan
"'I have come over to get an engagement if I can at Covent Garden. I am
supposed to sing all right. But I don't know anyone. I have been brought up
"'You have some letters of introduction, I suppose?' I asked.
"'Oh, yes. One from my teacher in Milan. One from an American
"In my turn I told her my name and where I lived, and I gave her my card.
I thought, you see, that since I used to know a good many operatic people, I
might be able to help her.
"'Thank you,' she said, and at that moment Mrs. Blumenstein, followed by a
party, chiefly those lap-dog young men who always seem to gather about that
kind of person, came into the supper-room and took a table close to us. There
was at once an end of all confidences--indeed, of all conversation. Joan
Carew lost all the lightness of her spirit; she talked at random, and her
eyes were drawn again and again to the grotesque slander on Marie Antoinette.
Finally I became annoyed.
"'Shall we go?' I suggested impatiently, and to my surprise she whispered
"'Yes. Please! Let us go.'
"Her voice was actually shaking, her small hands clenched. We went back to
the ballroom, but Joan Carew did not recover her gaiety, and half-way through
a dance, when we were near to the door, she stopped abruptly--extraordinarily
"'I shall go,' she said abruptly. 'I am tired. I have grown dull.'
"I protested, but she made a little grimace.
"'You'll hate me in half an hour. Let's be wise and stop now while we are
friends,' she said, and whilst I removed the domino from my shoulders she
stooped very quickly. It seemed to me that she picked up something which had
lain hidden beneath the sole of her slipper. She certainly moved her foot,
and I certainly saw something small and bright flash in the palm of her glove
as she raised herself again. But I imagined merely that it was some object
which she had dropped.
"'Yes, we'll go,' she said, and we went up the stairs into the lobby.
Certainly all the sparkle had gone out of our adventure. I recognized her
"'But I shall meet you again?' I asked.
"'Yes. I have your address. I'll write and fix a time when you will be
sure to find me in. Good-night, and a thousand thanks. I should have been
bored to tears if you hadn't come without a domino.'
"She was speaking lightly as she held out her hand, but her grip tightened
a little and--clung. Her eyes darkened and grew troubled, her mouth trembled.
The shadow of a great trouble had suddenly closed about her. She
"'I am half inclined to ask you to stay, however dull I am; and dance with
me till daylight--the safe daylight,' she said.
"It was an extraordinary phrase for her to use, and it moved me.
"'Let us go back then!' I urged. She gave me an impression suddenly of
someone quite forlorn. But Joan Carew recovered her courage. 'No, no,' she
answered quickly. She snatched her hand away and ran lightly up the
staircase, turning at the corner to wave her hand and smile. It was then
half-past one in the morning."
So far Calladine had spoken without an interruption. Mr. Ricardo, it is
true, was bursting to break in with the most important questions, but a
salutary fear of Hanaud restrained him. Now, however, he had an opportunity,
for Calladine paused.
"Half-past one," he said sagely. "Ah!"
"And when did you go home?" Hanaud asked of Calladine.
"True," said Mr. Ricardo. "It is of the greatest consequence."
Calladine was not sure. His partner had left behind her the strangest
medley of sensations in his breast. He was puzzled, haunted, and charmed. He
had to think about her; he was a trifle uplifted; sleep was impossible. He
wandered for a while about the ballroom. Then he walked to his chambers along
the echoing streets and sat at his window; and some time afterwards the hoot
of a motor-horn broke the silence and a car stopped and whirred in the street
below. A moment later his bell rang.
He ran down the stairs in a queer excitement, unlocked the street door and
opened it. Joan Carew, still in her masquerade dress with her scarlet cloak
about her shoulders, slipped through the opening.
"Shut the door," she whispered, drawing herself apart in a corner.
"Your cab?" asked Calladine.
"It has gone."
Calladine latched the door. Above, in the well of the stairs, the light
spread out from the open door of his flat. Down here all was dark. He could
just see the glimmer of her white face, the glitter of her dress, but she
drew her breath like one who has run far. They mounted the stairs cautiously.
He did not say a word until they were both safely in his parlour; and even
then it was in a low voice.
"What has happened?"
"You remember the woman I stared at? You didn't know why I stared, but any
girl would have understood. She was wearing the loveliest pearls I ever saw
in my life."
Joan was standing by the edge of the table. She was tracing with her
finger a pattern on the cloth as she spoke. Calladine started with a horrible
"Yes," she said. "I worship pearls. I always have done. For one thing,
they improve on me. I haven't got any, of course. I have no money. But
friends of mine who do own pearls have sometimes given theirs to me to wear
when they were going sick, and they have always got back their lustre. I
think that has had a little to do with my love of them. Oh, I have always
longed for them--just a little string. Sometimes I have felt that I would
have given my soul for them."
She was speaking in a dull, monotonous voice. But Calladine recalled the
ecstasy which had shone in her face when her eyes first had fallen on the
pearls, the longing which had swept her quite into another world, the passion
with which she had danced to throw the obsession off.
"And I never noticed them at all," he said.
"Yet they were wonderful. The colour! The lustre! All the evening they
tempted me. I was furious that a fat, coarse creature like that should have
such exquisite things. Oh, I was mad."
She covered her face suddenly with her hands and swayed. Calladine sprang
towards her. But she held out her hand.
"No, I am all right." And though he asked her to sit down she would not.
"You remember when I stopped dancing suddenly?"
"Yes. You had something hidden under your foot?"
The girl nodded.
"Her key!" And under his breath Calladine uttered a startled cry.
For the first time since she had entered the room Joan Carew raised her
head and looked at him. Her eyes were full of terror, and with the terror was
mixed an incredulity as though she could not possibly believe that that had
happened which she knew had happened.
"A little Yale key," the girl continued. "I saw Mrs. Blumenstein looking
on the floor for something, and then I saw it shining on the very spot. Mrs.
Blumenstein's suite was on the same floor as mine, and her maid slept above.
All the maids do. I knew that. Oh, it seemed to me as if I had sold my soul
and was being paid."
Now Calladine understood what she had meant by her strange phrase--"the
"I went up to my little suite," Joan Carew continued. "I sat there with
the key burning through my glove until I had given her time enough to fall
asleep"--and though she hesitated before she spoke the words, she did speak
them, not looking at Calladine, and with a shudder of remorse making her
confession complete. "Then I crept out. The corridor was dimly lit. Far away
below the music was throbbing. Up here it was as silent as the grave. I
opened the door--her door. I found myself in a lobby. The suite, though
bigger, was arranged like mine. I slipped in and closed the door behind me. I
listened in the darkness. I couldn't hear a sound. I crept forward to the
door in front of me. I stood with my fingers on the handle and my heart
beating fast enough to choke me. I had still time to turn back. But I
couldn't. There were those pearls in front of my eyes, lustrous and
wonderful. I opened the door gently an inch or so--and then--it all happened
in a second."
Joan Carew faltered. The night was too near to her, its memory too
poignant with terror. She shut her eyes tightly and cowered down in a chair.
With the movement her cloak slipped from her shoulders and dropped on to the
ground. Calladine leaned forward with an exclamation of horror; Joan Carew
"What is it?" she asked.
"Nothing. Go on."
"I found myself inside the room with the door shut behind me. I had shut
it myself in a spasm of terror. And I dared not turn round to open it. I was
"What do you mean? She was awake?"
Joan Carew shook her head.
"There were others in the room before me, and on the same
Calladine drew back, his eyes searching the girl's face.
"Yes?" he said slowly.
"I didn't see them at first. I didn't hear them. The room was quite dark
except for one jet of fierce white light which beat upon the door of a safe.
And as I shut the door the jet moved swiftly and the light reached me and
stopped. I was blinded. I stood in the full glare of it, drawn up against the
panels of the door, shivering, sick with fear. Then I heard a quiet laugh,
and someone moved softly towards me. Oh, it was terrible! I recovered the use
of my limbs; in a panic I turned to the door, but I was too late. Whilst I
fumbled with the handle I was seized; a hand covered my mouth. I was lifted
to the centre of the room. The jet went out, the electric lights were turned
on. There were two men dressed as apaches in velvet trousers and red scarves,
like a hundred others in the ballroom below, and both were masked. I
struggled furiously; but, of course, I was like a child in their grasp. 'Tie
her legs,' the man whispered who was holding me; 'she's making too much
noise.' I kicked and fought, but the other man stooped and tied my ankles,
and I fainted."
Calladine nodded his head.
"Yes?" he said.
"When I came to, the lights were still burning, the door of the safe was
open, the room empty; I had been flung on to a couch at the foot of the bed.
I was lying there quite free."
"Was the safe empty?" asked Calladine suddenly.
"I didn't look," she answered. "Oh!"-- and she covered her face
spasmodically with her hands. "I looked at the bed. Someone was lying
there--under a sheet and quite still. There was a clock ticking in the room;
it was the only sound. I was terrified. I was going mad with fear. If I
didn't get out of the room at once I felt that I should go mad, that I should
scream and bring everyone to find me alone with--what was under the sheet in
the bed. I ran to the door and looked out through a slit into the corridor.
It was still quite empty, and below the music still throbbed in the ballroom.
I crept down the stairs, meeting no one until I reached the hall. I looked
into the ballroom as if I was searching for someone. I stayed long enough to
show myself. Then I got a cab and came to you."
A short silence followed. Joan Carew looked at her companion in appeal.
"You are the only one I could come to," she added. "I know no one else."
Calladine sat watching the girl in silence. Then he asked, and his voice
"And is that all you have to tell me?"
"You are quite sure?"
Joan Carew looked at him perplexed by the urgency of his question. She
reflected for a moment or two.
Calladine rose to his feet and stood beside her.
"Then how do you come to be wearing this?" he asked, and he lifted a chain
of platinum and diamonds which she was wearing about her shoulders. "You
weren't wearing it when you danced with me."
Joan Carew stared at the chain.
"No. It's not mine. I have never seen it before." Then a light came into
her eyes. "The two men--they must have thrown it over my head when I was on
the couch--before they went." She looked at it more closely. "That's it. The
chain's not very valuable. They could spare it, and--it would accuse me--of
what they did."
"Yes, that's very good reasoning," said Calladine coldly.
Joan Carew looked quickly up into his face.
"Oh, you don't believe me," she cried. "You think--oh, it's impossible."
And, holding him by the edge of his coat, she burst into a storm of
"But you went to steal, you know," he said gently, and she answered him at
"Yes, I did, but not this." And she held up the necklace. "Should I have
stolen this, should I have come to you wearing it, if I had stolen the
pearls, if I had"--and she stopped--"if my story were not true?"
Calladine weighed her argument, and it affected him.
"No, I think you wouldn't," he said frankly.
Most crimes, no doubt, were brought home because the criminal had made
some incomprehensibly stupid mistake; incomprehensibly stupid, that is, by
the standards of normal life. Nevertheless, Calladine was inclined to believe
her. He looked at her. That she should have murdered was absurd. Moreover,
she was not making a parade of remorse, she was not playing the unctuous
penitent; she had yielded to a temptation, had got herself into desperate
straits, and was at her wits' ends how to escape from them. She was frank
Calladine looked at the clock. It was nearly five o'clock in the morning,
and though the music could still be heard from the ballroom in the Semiramis,
the night had begun to wane upon the river.
"You must go back," he said. "I'll walk with you."
They crept silently down the stairs and into the street. It was only a
step to the Semiramis. They met no one until they reached the Strand. There
many, like Joan Carew in masquerade, were standing about, or walking hither
and thither in search of carriages and cabs. The whole street was in a
bustle, what with drivers shouting and people coming away.
"You can slip in unnoticed," said Calladine as he looked into the thronged
courtyard. "I'll telephone to you in the morning."
"You will?" she cried eagerly, clinging for a moment to his arm.
"Yes, for certain," he replied. "Wait in until you hear from me. I'll
think it over. I'll do what I can."
"Thank you," she said fervently.
He watched her scarlet cloak flitting here and there in the crowd until it
vanished through the doorway. Then, for the second time, he walked back to
his chambers, while the morning crept up the river from the sea.
* * * * *
This was the story which Calladine told in Mr. Ricardo's library. Mr.
Ricardo heard it out with varying emotions. He began with a thrill of
expectation like a man on a dark threshold of great excitements. The setting
of the story appealed to him, too, by a sort of brilliant bizarrerie which he
found in it. But, as it went on, he grew puzzled and a trifle disheartened.
There were flaws and chinks; he began to bubble with unspoken criticisms,
then swift and clever thrusts which he dared not deliver. He looked upon the
young man with disfavour, as upon one who had half opened a door upon a
theatre of great promise and shown him a spectacle not up to the mark.
Hanaud, on the other hand, listened imperturbably, without an expression upon
his face, until the end. Then he pointed a finger at Calladine and asked him
what to Ricardo's mind was a most irrelevant question.
"You got back to your rooms, then, before five, Mr. Calladine, and it is
now nine o'clock less a few minutes."
"Yet you have not changed your clothes. Explain to me that. What did you
do between five and half-past eight?"
Calladine looked down at his rumpled shirt front.
"Upon my word, I never thought of it," he cried. "I was worried out of my
mind. I couldn't decide what to do. Finally, I determined to talk to Mr.
Ricardo, and after I had come to that conclusion I just waited impatiently
until I could come round with decency."
Hanaud rose from his chair. His manner was grave, but conveyed no single
hint of an opinion. He turned to Ricardo.
"Let us go round to your young friend's rooms in the Adelphi," he said;
and the three men drove thither at once.
Calladine lodged in a corner house and upon the first floor. His rooms,
large and square and lofty, with Adams mantelpieces and a delicate tracery
upon their ceilings, breathed the grace of the eighteenth century. Broad high
windows, embrasured in thick walls, overlooked the river and took in all the
sunshine and the air which the river had to give. And they were furnished
fittingly. When the three men entered the parlour, Mr. Ricardo was astounded.
He had expected the untidy litter of a man run to seed, the neglect and the
dust of the recluse. But the room was as clean as the deck of a yacht; an
Aubusson carpet made the floor luxurious underfoot; a few coloured prints of
real value decorated the walls; and the mahogany furniture was polished so
that a lady could have used it as a mirror. There was even by the newspapers
upon the round table a china bowl full of fresh red roses. If Calladine had
turned hermit, he was a hermit of an unusually fastidious type. Indeed, as he
stood with his two companions in his dishevelled dress he seemed quite out of
keeping with his rooms.
"So you live here, Mr. Calladine?" said Hanaud, taking off his hat and
laying it down.
"With your servants, of course?"
"They come in during the day," said Calladine, and Hanaud looked at him
"Do you mean that you sleep here alone?"
"But your valet?"
"I don't keep a valet," said Calladine; and again the curious look came
into Hanaud's eyes.
"Yet," he suggested gently, "there are rooms enough in your set of
chambers to house a family."
Calladine coloured and shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the
"I prefer at night not to be disturbed," he said, stumbling a little over
the words. "I mean, I have a liking for quiet."
Gabriel Hanaud nodded his head with sympathy.
"Yes, yes. And it is a difficult thing to get--as difficult as my
holiday," he said ruefully, with a smile for Mr. Ricardo. "However"--he
turned towards Calladine--"no doubt, now that you are at home, you would like
a bath and a change of clothes. And when you are dressed, perhaps you will
telephone to the Semiramis and ask Miss Carew to come round here. Meanwhile,
we will read your newspapers and smoke your cigarettes."
Hanaud shut the door upon Calladine, but he turned neither to the papers
nor the cigarettes. He crossed the room to Mr. Ricardo, who, seated at the
open window, was plunged deep in reflections.
"You have an idea, my friend," cried Hanaud. "It demands to express
itself. That sees itself in your face. Let me hear it, I pray."
Mr. Ricardo started out of an absorption which was altogether assumed.
"I was thinking," he said, with a faraway smile, "that you might disappear
in the forests of Africa, and at once everyone would be very busy about your
disappearance. You might leave your village in Leicestershire and live in the
fogs of Glasgow, and within a week the whole village would know your postal
address. But London--what a city! How different! How indifferent! Turn out of
St. James's into the Adelphi Terrace and not a soul will say to you: 'Dr.
Livingstone, I presume?'"
"But why should they," asked Hanaud, "if your name isn't Dr.
Mr. Ricardo smiled indulgently.
"Scoffer!" he said. "You understand me very well," and he sought to turn
the tables on his companion. "And you--does this room suggest nothing to you?
Have you no ideas?" But he knew very well that Hanaud had. Ever since Hanaud
had crossed the threshold he had been like a man stimulated by a drug. His
eyes were bright and active, his body alert.
"Yes," he said, "I have."
He was standing now by Ricardo's side with his hands in his pockets,
looking out at the trees on the Embankment and the barges swinging down the
"You are thinking of the strange scene which took place in this room such
a very few hours ago," said Ricardo. "The girl in her masquerade dress making
her confession with the stolen chain about her throat----"
Hanaud looked backwards carelessly. "No, I wasn't giving it a thought," he
said, and in a moment or two he began to walk about the room with that
curiously light step which Ricardo was never able to reconcile with his
cumbersome figure. With the heaviness of a bear he still padded. He went from
corner to corner, opened a cupboard here, a drawer of the bureau there,
and--stooped suddenly. He stood erect again with a small box of morocco
leather in his hand. His body from head to foot seemed to Ricardo to be
expressing the question, "Have I found it?" He pressed a spring and the lid
of the box flew open. Hanaud emptied its contents into the palm of his hand.
There were two or three sticks of sealing-wax and a seal. With a shrug of the
shoulders he replaced them and shut the box.
"You are looking for something," Ricardo announced with sagacity.
"I am," replied Hanaud; and it seemed that in a second or two he found it.
Yet--yet--he found it with his hands in his pockets, if he had found it. Mr.
Ricardo saw him stop in that attitude in front of the mantelshelf, and heard
him utter a long, low whistle. Upon the mantelshelf some photographs were
arranged, a box of cigars stood at one end, a book or two lay between some
delicate ornaments of china, and a small engraving in a thin gilt frame was
propped at the back against the wall. Ricardo surveyed the shelf from his
seat in the window, but he could not imagine which it was of these objects
that so drew and held Hanaud's eyes.
Hanaud, however, stepped forward. He looked into a vase and turned it
upside down. Then he removed the lid of a porcelain cup, and from the very
look of his great shoulders Ricardo knew that he had discovered what he
sought. He was holding something in his hands, turning it over, examining it.
When he was satisfied he moved swiftly to the door and opened it cautiously.
Both men could hear the splashing of water in a bath. Hanaud closed the door
again with a nod of contentment and crossed once more to the window.
"Yes, it is all very strange and curious," he said, "and I do not regret
that you dragged me into the affair. You were quite right, my friend, this
morning. It is the personality of your young Mr. Calladine which is the
interesting thing. For instance, here we are in London in the early summer.
The trees out, freshly green, lilac and flowers in the gardens, and I don't
know what tingle of hope and expectation in the sunlight and the air. I am
middle-aged--yet there's a riot in my blood, a recapture of youth, a belief
that just round the corner, beyond the reach of my eyes, wonders wait for me.
Don't you, too, feel something like that? Well, then--" and he heaved his
shoulders in astonishment.
"Can you understand a young man with money, with fastidious tastes,
good-looking, hiding himself in a corner at such a time--except for some
overpowering reason? No. Nor can I. There is another thing--I put a question
or two to Calladine."
"Yes," said Ricardo.
"He has no servants here at night. He is quite alone and--here is what I
find interesting--he has no valet. That seems a small thing to you?" Hanaud
asked at a movement from Ricardo. "Well, it is no doubt a trifle, but it's a
significant trifle in the case of a young rich man. It is generally a sign
that there is something strange, perhaps even something sinister, in his
life. Mr. Calladine, some months ago, turned out of St. James's into the
Adelphi. Can you tell me why?"
"No," replied Mr. Ricardo. "Can you?"
Hanaud stretched out a hand. In his open palm lay a small round hairy bulb
about the size of a big button and of a colour between green and brown.
"Look!" he said. "What is that?"
Mr. Ricardo took the bulb wonderingly.
"It looks to me like the fruit of some kind of cactus."
"It is. You will see some pots of it in the hothouses of any really good
botanical gardens. Kew has them, I have no doubt. Paris certainly has. They
are labelled. 'Anhalonium Luinii.' But amongst the Indians of Yucatan the
plant has a simpler name."
"What name?" asked Ricardo.
Mr. Ricardo repeated the name. It conveyed nothing to him whatever.
"There are a good many bulbs just like that in the cup upon the
mantelshelf," said Hanaud.
Ricardo looked quickly up.
"Why?" he asked.
"Mescal is a drug."
"Yes, you are beginning to understand now," Hanaud continued, "why your
young friend Calladine turned out of St. James's into the Adelphi
Ricardo turned the little bulb over in his fingers.
"You make a decoction of it, I suppose?" he said.
"Or you can use it as the Indians do in Yucatan," replied Hanaud. "Mescal
enters into their religious ceremonies. They sit at night in a circle about a
fire built in the forest and chew it, whilst one of their number beats
perpetually upon a drum."
Hanaud looked round the room and took notes of its luxurious carpet, its
delicate appointments. Outside the window there was a thunder in the streets,
a clamour of voices. Boats went swiftly down the river on the ebb. Beyond the
mass of the Semiramis rose the great grey-white dome of St. Paul's. Opposite,
upon the Southwark bank, the giant sky-signs, the big Highlander drinking
whisky, and the rest of them waited, gaunt skeletons, for the night to limn
them in fire and give them life. Below the trees in the gardens rustled and
waved. In the air were the uplift and the sparkle of the young summer.
"It's a long way from the forests of Yucatan to the Adelphi Terrace of
London," said Hanaud. "Yet here, I think, in these rooms, when the servants
are all gone and the house is very quiet, there is a little corner of wild
A look of pity came into Mr. Ricardo's face. He had seen more than one
young man of great promise slacken his hold and let go, just for this reason.
Calladine, it seemed, was another.
"It's like bhang and kieff and the rest of the devilish things, I
suppose," he said, indignantly tossing the button upon the table.
Hanaud picked it up.
"No," he replied. "It's not quite like any other drug. It has a quality of
its own which just now is of particular importance to you and me. Yes, my
friend"--and he nodded his head very seriously--"we must watch that we do not
make the big fools of ourselves in this affair."
"There," Mr. Ricardo agreed with an ineffable air of wisdom, "I am
entirely with you."
"Now, why?" Hanaud asked. Mr. Ricardo was at a loss for a reason, but
Hanaud did not wait. "I will tell you. Mescal intoxicates, yes--but it does
more--it gives to the man who eats of it colour-dreams."
"Colour-dreams?" Mr. Ricardo repeated in a wondering voice.
"Yes, strange heated charms, in which violent things happen vividly
amongst bright colours. Colour is the gift of this little prosaic brown
button." He spun the bulb in the air like a coin, and catching it again, took
it over to the mantelpiece and dropped it into the porcelain cup.
"Are you sure of this?" Ricardo cried excitedly, and Hanuad raised his
hand in warning. He went to the door, opened it for an inch or so, and closed
"I am quite sure," he returned. "I have for a friend a very learned
chemist in the Collège de France. He is one of those enthusiasts who must
experiment upon themselves. He tried this drug."
"Yes," Ricardo said in a quieter voice. "And what did he see?"
"He had a vision of a wonderful garden bathed in sunlight, an old garden
of gorgeous flowers and emerald lawns, ponds with golden lilies and thick yew
hedges--a garden where peacocks stepped indolently and groups of gay people
fantastically dressed quarrelled and fought with swords. That is what he saw.
And he saw it so vividly that, when the vapours of the drug passed from his
brain and he waked, he seemed to be coming out of the real world into a world
of shifting illusions."
Hanaud's strong quiet voice stopped, and for a while there was a complete
silence in the room. Neither of the two men stirred so much as a finger. Mr.
Ricardo once more was conscious of the thrill of strange sensations. He
looked round the room. He could hardly believe that a room which had
been--nay was--the home and shrine of mysteries in the dark hours could wear
so bright and innocent a freshness in the sunlight of the morning. There
should be something sinister which leaped to the eyes as you crossed the
"Out of the real world," Mr. Ricardo quoted. "I begin to see."
"Yes, you begin to see, my friend, that we must be very careful not to
make the big fools of ourselves. My friend of the Collège de France saw a
garden. But had he been sitting alone in the window-seat where you are,
listening through a summer night to the music of the masquerade at the
Semiramis, might he not have seen the ballroom, the dancers, the scarlet
cloak, and the rest of this story?"
"You mean," cried Ricardo, now fairly startled, "that Calladine came to us
with the fumes of mescal still working in his brain, that the false world was
the real one still for him."
"I do not know," said Hanaud. "At present I only put questions. I ask them
of you. I wish to hear how they sound. Let us reason this problem out.
Calladine, let us say, takes a great deal more of the drug than my professor.
It will have on him a more powerful effect while it lasts, and it will last
longer. Fancy dress balls are familiar things to Calladine. The music
floating from the Semiramis will revive old memories. He sits here, the
pageant takes shape before him, he sees himself taking his part in it. Oh, he
is happier here sitting quietly in his window-seat than if he was actually at
the Semiramis. For he is there more intensely, more vividly, more really,
than if he had actually descended this staircase. He lives his story through,
the story of a heated brain, the scene of it changes in the way dreams have,
it becomes tragic and sinister, it oppresses him with horror, and in the
morning, so obsessed with it that he does not think to change his clothes, he
is knocking at your door."
Mr. Ricardo raised his eyebrows and moved.
"Ah! You see a flaw in my argument," said Hanaud. But Mr. Ricardo was
wary. Too often in other days he had been leaped upon and trounced for a
"Let me hear the end of your argument," he said. "There was then to your
thinking no temptation of jewels, no theft, no murder--in a word, no
Celymène? She was born of recollections and the music of the Semiramis."
"No!" cried Hanaud. "Come with me, my friend. I am not so sure that there
was no Celymène."
With a smile upon his face, Hanaud led the way across the room. He had the
dramatic instinct, and rejoiced in it. He was going to produce a surprise for
his companion and, savouring the moment in advance, he managed his effects.
He walked towards the mantelpiece and stopped a few paces away from it.
Mr. Ricardo looked and saw a broad Adams mantelpiece. He turned a
bewildered face to his friend.
"You see nothing?" Hanaud asked.
"Look again! I am not sure--but is it not that Celymène is posing before
Mr. Ricardo looked again. There was nothing to fix his eyes. He saw a book
or two, a cup, a vase or two, and nothing else really expect a very pretty
and apparently valuable piece of--and suddenly Mr. Ricardo understood.
Straight in front of him, in the very centre of the mantelpiece, a figure in
painted china was leaning against a china stile. It was the figure of a
perfectly impossible courtier, feminine and exquisite as could be, and
apparelled also even to the scarlet heels exactly as Calladine had described
Hanaud chuckled with satisfaction when he saw the expression upon Mr.
"Ah, you understand," he said. "Do you dream, my friend? At times--yes,
like the rest of us. Then recollect your dreams? Things, people, which you
have seen perhaps that day, perhaps months ago, pop in and out of them
without making themselves prayed for. You cannot understand why. Yet
sometimes they cut their strange capers there, logically, too, through subtle
associations which the dreamer, once awake, does not apprehend. Thus, our
friend here sits in the window, intoxicated by his drug, the music plays in
the Semiramis, the curtain goes up in the heated theatre of his brain. He
sees himself step upon the stage, and who else meets him but the china figure
from his mantelpiece?"
Mr. Ricardo for a moment was all enthusiasm. Then his doubt returned to
"What you say, my dear Hanaud, is very ingenious. The figure upon the
mantelpiece is also extremely convincing. And I should be absolutely
convinced but for one thing."
"Yes?" said Hanaud, watching his friend closely.
"I am--I may say it, I think, a man of the world. And I ask myself"--Mr.
Ricardo never could ask himself anything without assuming a manner of extreme
pomposity--"I ask myself, whether a young man who has given up his social
ties, who has become a hermit, and still more who has become the slave of a
drug, would retain that scrupulous carefulness of his body which is indicated
by dressing for dinner when alone?"
Hanaud struck the table with the palm of his hand and sat down in a
"Yes. That is the weak point in my theory. You have hit it. I knew it was
there--that weak point, and I wondered whether you would seize it. Yes, the
consumers of drugs are careless, untidy--even unclean as a rule. But not
always. We must be careful. We must wait."
"For what?" asked Ricardo, beaming with pride.
"For the answer to a telephone message," replied Hanaud, with a nod
towards the door.
Both men waited impatiently until Calladine came into the room. He wore
now a suit of blue serge, he had a clearer eye, his skin a healthier look; he
was altogether a more reputable person. But he was plainly very ill at ease.
He offered his visitors cigarettes, he proposed refreshments, he avoided
entirely and awkwardly the object of their visit. Hanaud smiled. His theory
was working out. Sobered by his bath, Calladine had realised the foolishness
of which he had been guilty.
"You telephone, to the Semiramis, of course?" said Hanaud cheerfully.
Calladine grew red.
"Yes," he stammered.
"Yet I did not hear that volume of 'Hallos' which precedes telephonic
connection in your country of leisure," Hanaud continued.
"I telephoned from my bedroom. You would not hear anything in this
"Yes, yes; the walls of these old houses are solid." Hanaud was playing
with his victim. "And when may we expect Miss Carew?"
"I can't say," replied Calladine. "It's very strange. She is not in the
hotel. I am afraid that she has gone away, fled."
Mr. Ricardo and Hanaud exchanged a look. They were both satisfied now.
There was no word of truth in Calladine's story.
"Then there is no reason for us to wait," said Hanaud. "I shall have my
holiday after all." And while he was yet speaking the voice of a newsboy
calling out the first edition of an evening paper became distantly audible.
Hanaud broke off his farewell. For a moment he listened, with his head bent.
Then the voice was heard again, confused, indistinct; Hanaud picked up his
hat and cane and, without another word to Calladine, raced down the stairs.
Mr. Ricardo followed him, but when he reached the pavement, Hanaud was half
down the little street. At the corner, however, he stopped, and Ricardo
joined him, coughing and out of breath.
"What's the matter?" he gasped.
"Listen," said Hanaud.
At the bottom of Duke Street, by Charing Cross Station, the newsboy was
shouting his wares. Both men listened, and now the words came to them
mispronounced but decipherable.
"Mysterious crime at the Semiramis Hotel."
Ricardo stared at his companion.
"You were wrong then!" he cried. "Calladine's story was true."
For once in a way Hanaud was quite disconcerted.
"I don't know yet," he said. "We will buy a paper."
But before he could move a step a taxi-cab turned into the Adelphi from
the Strand, and wheeling in front of their faces, stopped at Calladine's
door. From the cab a girl descended.
"Let us go back," said Hanaud.
Mr. Ricardo could no longer complain. It was half-past eight when
Calladine had first disturbed the formalities of his house in Grosvenor
Square. It was barely ten now, and during that short time he had been flung
from surprise to surprise, he had looked underground on a morning of fresh
summer, and had been thrilled by the contrast between the queer, sinister
life below and within and the open call to joy of the green world above. He
had passed from incredulity to belief, from belief to incredulity, and when
at last incredulity was firmly established, and the story to which he had
listened proved the emanation of a drugged and heated brain, lo! the facts
buffeted him in the face, and the story was shown to be true.
"I am alive once more," Mr. Ricardo thought as he turned back with Hanaud,
and in his excitement he cried his thought aloud.
"Are you?" said Hanaud. "And what is life without a newspaper? If you will
buy one from that remarkably raucous boy at the bottom of the street I will
keep an eye upon Calladine's house till you come back."
Mr. Ricardo sped down to Charing Cross and brought back a copy of the
fourth edition of the Star. He handed it to Hanaud, who stared at it
doubtfully, folded as it was.
"Shall we see what it says?" Ricardo asked impatiently.
"By no means," Hanaud answered, waking from his reverie and tucking
briskly away the paper into the tail pocket of his coat. "We will hear what
Miss Joan Carew has to say, with our minds undisturbed by any discoveries. I
was wondering about something totally different."
"Yes?" Mr. Ricardo encouraged him. "What was it?"
"I was wondering, since it is only ten o'clock, at what hour the first
editions of the evening papers appear."
"It is a question," Mr. Ricardo replied sententiously, "which the greatest
minds have failed to answer."
And they walked along the street to the house. The front door stood open
during the day like the front door of any other house which is let off in
sets of rooms. Hanaud and Ricardo went up the staircase and rang the bell of
Calladine's door. A middle-aged woman opened it.
"Mr. Calladine is in?" said Hanaud.
"I will ask," replied the woman. "What name shall I say?"
"It does not matter. I will go straight in," said Hanaud quietly. "I was
here with my friend but a minute ago."
He went straight forward and into Calladine's parlour. Mr. Ricardo looked
over his shoulder as he opened the door and saw a girl turn to them suddenly
a white face of terror, and flinch as though already she felt the hand of a
constable upon her shoulder. Calladine, on the other hand, uttered a cry of
"These are my friends," he exclaimed to the girl, "the friends of whom I
spoke to you"; and to Hanaud he said: "This is Miss Carew."
"You shall tell me your story, mademoiselle," he said very gently, and a
little colour returned to the girl's cheeks, a little courage revived in
"But you have heard it," she answered.
"Not from you," said Hanaud.
So for a second time in that room she told the history of that night. Only
this time the sunlight was warm upon the world, the comfortable sounds of
life's routine were borne through the windows, and the girl herself wore the
inconspicuous blue serge of a thousand other girls afoot that morning. These
trifles of circumstance took the edge of sheer horror off her narrative, so
that, to tell the truth, Mr. Ricardo was a trifle disappointed. He wanted a
crescendo motive in his music, whereas it had begun at its fortissimo.
Hanaud, however, was the perfect listener. He listened without stirring and
with most compassionate eyes, so that Joan Carew spoke only to him, and to
him, each moment that passed, with greater confidence. The life and sparkle
of her had gone altogether. There was nothing in her manner now to suggest
the waywardness, the gay irresponsibility, the radiance, which had attracted
Calladine the night before. She was just a very young and very pretty girl,
telling in a low and remorseful voice of the tragic dilemma to which she had
brought herself. Of Celymène all that remained was something exquisite and
fragile in her beauty, in the slimness of her figure, in her daintiness of
hand and foot--something almost of the hot-house. But the story she told was,
detail for detail, the same which Calladine had already related.
"Thank you," said Hanaud when she had done. "Now I must ask you two
"I will answer them."
Mr. Ricardo sat up. He began to think of a third question which he might
put himself, something uncommonly subtle and searching, which Hanaud would
never have thought of. But Hanaud put his questions, and Ricardo almost
jumped out of his chair.
"You will forgive me. Miss Carew. But have you ever stolen before?"
Joan Carew turned upon Hanaud with spirit. Then a change swept over her
"You have a right to ask," she answered. "Never." She looked into his eyes
as she answered. Hanaud did not move. He sat with a hand upon each knee and
led to his second question.
"Early this morning, when you left this room, you told Mr. Calladine that
you would wait at the Semiramis until he telephoned to you?"
"Yet when he telephoned, you had gone out?"
"I will tell you," said Joan Carew. "I could not bear to keep the little
diamond chain in my room."
For a moment even Hanaud was surprised. He had lost sight of that
complication. Now he leaned forward anxiously; indeed, with a greater anxiety
than he had yet shown in all this affair.
"I was terrified," continued Joan Carew. "I kept thinking: 'They must have
found out by now. They will search everywhere.' I didn't reason. I lay in bed
expecting to hear every moment a loud knocking on the door. Besides--the
chain itself being there in my bedroom--her chain--the dead woman's
chain--no, I couldn't endure it. I felt as if I had stolen it. Then my maid
brought in my tea."
"You had locked it away?" cried Hanaud.
"Yes. My maid did not see it."
Joan Carew explained how she had risen, dressed, wrapped the chain in a
pad of cotton-wool and enclosed it in an envelope. The envelope had not the
stamp of the hotel upon it. It was a rather large envelope, one of a packet
which she had bought in a crowded shop in Oxford Street on her way from
Euston to the Semiramis. She had bought the envelopes of that particular size
in order that when she sent her letter of introduction to the Director of the
Opera at Covent Garden she might enclose with it a photograph.
"And to whom did you send it?" asked Mr. Ricardo.
"To Mrs. Blumenstein at the Semiramis. I printed the address carefully.
Then I went out and posted it."
"Where?" Hanaud inquired.
"In the big letter-box of the Post Office at the corner of Trafalgar
Hanaud looked at the girl sharply.
"You had your wits about you, I see," he said.
"What if the envelope gets lost?" said Ricardo.
Hanuad laughed grimly.
"If one envelope is delivered at its address in London to-day, it will be
that one," he said. "The news of the crime is published, you see," and he
swung round to Joan.
"Did you know that, Miss Carew?"
"No," she answered in an awe-stricken voice.
"Well, then, it is. Let us see what the special investigator has to say
about it." And Hanaud, with a deliberation which Mr. Ricardo found quite
excruciating, spread out the newspaper on the table in front of him.
There was only one new fact in the couple of columns devoted to the
mystery. Mrs. Blumenstein had died from chloroform poisoning. She was of a
stout habit, and the thieves were not skilled in the administration of the
"It's murder none the less," said Hanaud, and he gazed straight at Joan,
asking her by the direct summons of his eyes what she was going to do.
"I must tell my story to the police," she replied painfully and slowly.
But she did not hesitate; she was announcing a meditated plan.
Hanaud neither agreed nor differed. His face was blank, and when he spoke
there was no cordiality in his voice. "Well," he asked, "and what is it that
you have to say to the police, miss? That you went into the room to steal,
and that you were attacked by two strangers, dressed as apaches, and masked?
That is all?"
"And how many men at the Semiramis ball were dressed as apaches and wore
masks? Come! Make a guess. A hundred at the least?"
"I should think so."
"Then what will your confession do beyond--I quote your English
idiom--putting you in the coach?"
Mr. Ricardo now smiled with relief. Hanaud was taking a definite line. His
knowledge of idiomatic English might be incomplete, but his heart was in the
right place. The girl traced a vague pattern on the tablecloth with her
"Yet I think I must tell the police," she repeated, looking up and
dropping her eyes again. Mr. Ricardo noticed that her eyelashes were very
long. For the first time Hanaud's face relaxed.
"And I think you are quite right," he cried heartily, to Mr. Ricardo's
surprise. "Tell them the truth before they suspect it, and they will help you
out of the affair if they can. Not a doubt of it. Come, I will go with you
myself to Scotland Yard."
"Thank you," said Joan, and the pair drove away in a cab together.
Hanaud returned to Grosvenor Square alone and lunched with Ricardo.
"It was all right," he said. "The police were very kind. Miss Joan Carew
told her story to them as she had told it to us. Fortunately, the envelope
with the aluminium chain had already been delivered, and was in their hands.
They were much mystified about it, but Miss Joan's story gave them a
reasonable explanation. I think they are inclined to believe her; and, if she
is speaking the truth, they will keep her out of the witness-box if they
"She is to stay here in London, then?" asked Ricardo.
"Oh, yes; she is not to go. She will present her letters at the Opera
House and secure an engagement, if she can. The criminals might be lulled
thereby into a belief that the girl had kept the whole strange incident to
herself, and that there was nowhere even a knowledge of the disguise which
they had used." Hanaud spoke as carelessly as if the matter was not very
important; and Ricardo, with an unusual flash of shrewdness, said:
"It is clear, my friend, that you do not think those two men will ever be
caught at all."
Hanaud shrugged his shoulders.
"There is always a chance. But listen. There is a room with a hundred
guns, one of which is loaded. Outside the room there are a hundred pigeons,
one of which is white. You are taken into the room blind-fold. You choose the
loaded gun and you shoot the one white pigeon. That is the value of the
"But," exclaimed Ricardo, "those pearls were of great value, and I have
heard at a trial expert evidence given by pearl merchants. All agree that the
pearls of great value are known; so, when they come upon the market----"
"That is true," Hanaud interrupted imperturbably. "But how are they
"By their weight," said Mr. Ricardo.
"Exactly," replied Hanaud. "But did you not also hear at this trial of
yours that pearls can be peeled like an onion? No? It is true. Remove a skin,
two skins, the weight is altered, the pearl is a trifle smaller. It has lost
a little of its value, yes--but you can no longer identify it as the
so-and-so pearl which belonged to this or that sultan, was stolen by the
vizier, bought by Messrs. Lustre and Steinopolis, of Hatton Garden, and
subsequently sold to the wealthy Mrs. Blumenstein. No, your pearl has
vanished altogether. There is a new pearl which can be traded." He looked at
Ricardo. "Who shall say that those pearls are not already in one of the queer
little back streets of Amsterdam, undergoing their transformation?"
Mr. Ricardo was not persuaded because he would not be. "I have some
experience in these matters," he said loftily to Hanaud. "I am sure that we
shall lay our hands upon the criminals. We have never failed."
Hanaud grinned from ear to ear. The only experience which Mr. Ricardo had
ever had was gained on the shores of Geneva and at Aix under Hanaud's
tuition. But Hanaud did not argue, and there the matter rested.
The days flew by. It was London's play-time. The green and gold of early
summer deepened and darkened; wondrous warm nights under England's pale blue
sky, when the streets rang with the joyous feet of youth, led in clear dawns
and lovely glowing days. Hanaud made acquaintance with the wooded reaches of
the Thames; Joan Carew sang "Louise" at Covent Garden with notable success;
and the affair of the Semiramis Hotel, in the minds of the few who remembered
it, was already added to the long list of unfathomed mysteries.
But towards the end of May there occurred a startling development. Joan
Carew wrote to Mr. Ricardo that she would call upon him in the afternoon, and
she begged him to secure the presence of Hanaud. She came as the clock
struck; she was pale and agitated; and in the room where Calladine had first
told the story of her visit she told another story which, to Mr. Ricardo's
thinking, was yet more strange and--yes--yet more suspicious.
"It has been going on for some time," she began. "I thought of coming to
you at once. Then I wondered whether, if I waited--oh, you'll never believe
"Let us hear!" said Hanaud patiently.
"I began to dream of that room, the two men disguised and masked, the
still figure in the bed. Night after night! I was terrified to go to sleep. I
felt the hand upon my mouth. I used to catch myself falling asleep, and walk
about the room with all the lights up to keep myself awake."
"But you couldn't," said Hanaud with a smile. "Only the old can do
"No, I couldn't," she admitted; "and--oh, my nights were horrible
until"--she paused and looked at her companions doubtfully--"until one night
the mask slipped."
"What--?" cried Hanaud, and a note of sternness rang suddenly in his
voice. "What are you saying?"
With a desperate rush of words, and the colour staining her forehead and
cheeks, Joan Carew continued:
"It is true. The mask slipped on the face of one of the men--of the man
who held me. Only a little way; it just left his forehead visible--no
"Well?" asked Hanaud, and Mr. Ricardo leaned forward, swaying between the
austerity of criticism and the desire to believe so thrilling a
"I waked up," the girl continued, "in the darkness, and for a moment the
whole scene remained vividly with me--for just long enough for me to fix
clearly in my mind the figure of the apache with the white forehead showing
above the mask."
"When was that?" asked Ricardo.
"A fortnight ago."
"Why didn't you come with your story then?"
"I waited," said Joan. "What I had to tell wasn't yet helpful. I thought
that another night the mask might slip lower still. Besides, I--it is
difficult to describe just what I felt. I felt it important just to keep that
photograph in my mind, not to think about it, not to talk about it, not even
to look at it too often lest I should begin to imagine the rest of the face
and find something familiar in the man's carriage and shape when there was
nothing really familiar to me at all. Do you understand that?" she asked,
with her eyes fixed in appeal on Hanaud's face.
"Yes," replied Hanaud. "I follow your thought."
"I thought there was a chance now--the strangest chance- -that the truth
might be reached. I did not wish to spoil it," and she turned eagerly to
Ricardo, as if, having persuaded Hanaud, she would now turn her batteries on
his companion. "My whole point of view was changed. I was no longer afraid of
falling asleep lest I should dream. I wished to dream, but----"
"But you could not," suggested Hanaud.
"No, that is the truth," replied Joan Carew. "Whereas before I was anxious
to keep awake and yet must sleep from sheer fatigue, now that I tried
consciously to put myself to sleep I remained awake all through the night,
and only towards morning, when the light was coming through the blinds,
dropped off into a heavy, dreamless slumber."
"It is a very perverse world, Miss Carew, and things go by
Ricardo listened for some note of irony in Hanaud's voice, some look of
disbelief in his face. But there was neither the one nor the other. Hanaud
was listening patiently.
"Then came my rehearsals," Joan Carew continued, "and that wonderful opera
drove everything else out of my head. I had such a chance, if only I could
make use of it! When I went to bed now, I went with that haunting music in my
ears--the call of Paris--oh, you must remember it. But can you realise what
it must mean to a girl who is going to sing it for the first time in Covent
Mr. Ricardo saw his opportunity. He, the connoisseur, to whom the
psychology of the green room was as an open book, could answer that
"It is true, my friend," he informed Hanaud with quiet authority. "The
great march of events leaves the artist cold. He lives aloof. While the
tumbrils thunder in the streets he adds a delicate tint to the picture he is
engaged upon or recalls his triumph in his last great part."
"Thank you," said Hanaud gravely. "And now Miss Carew may perhaps resume
"It was the very night of my début," she continued. "I had supper with
some friends. A great artist. Carmen Valeri, honoured me with her presence. I
went home excited, and that night I dreamed again."
"This time the chin, the lips, the eyes were visible. There was only a
black strip across the middle of the face. And I thought--nay, I was
sure--that if that strip vanished I should know the man."
"And it did vanish?"
"Three nights afterwards."
"And you did know the man?"
The girl's face became troubled. She frowned.
"I knew the face, that was all," she answered. "I was disappointed. I had
never spoken to the man. I am sure of that still. But somewhere I have seen
"You don't even remember when?" asked Hanaud.
"No." Joan Carew reflected for a moment with her eyes upon the carpet, and
then flung up her head with a gesture of despair. "No. I try all the time to
remember. But it is no good."
Mr. Ricardo could not restrain a movement of indignation. He was being
played with. The girl with her fantastic story had worked him up to a real
pitch of excitement only to make a fool of him. All his earlier suspicions
flowed back into his mind. What if, after all, she was implicated in the
murder and the theft? What if, with a perverse cunning, she had told Hanaud
and himself just enough of what she knew, just enough of the truth, to
persuade them to protect her? What if her frank confession of her own
overpowering impulse to steal the necklace was nothing more than a subtle
appeal to the sentimental pity of men, an appeal based upon a wider knowledge
of men's weaknesses than a girl of nineteen or twenty ought to have? Mr.
Ricardo cleared his throat and sat forward in his chair. He was girding
himself for a singularly searching interrogatory when Hanaud asked the most
irrelevant of questions:
"How did you pass the evening of that night when you first dreamed
complete the face of your assailant?"
Joan Carew reflected. Then her face cleared.
"I know," she exclaimed. "I was at the opera."
"And what was being given?"
"The Jewels of the Madonna."
Hanaud nodded his head. To Ricardo it seemed that he had expected
precisely that answer.
"Now," he continued, "you are sure that you have seen this man?"
"Very well," said Hanaud. "There is a game you play at children's
parties--is there not?--animal, vegetable, or mineral, and always you get the
answer. Let us play that game for a few minutes, you and I."
Joan Carew drew up her chair to the table and sat with her chin propped
upon her hands and her eyes fixed on Hanaud's face. As he put each question
she pondered on it and answered. If she answered doubtfully he pressed
"You crossed on the Lucania from New York?"
"Picture to yourself the dining-room, the tables. You have the picture
"Was it at breakfast that you saw him?"
She paused for a moment, summoning before her eyes the travellers at the
"Not in the dining-table at all, then?"
"In the library, when you were writing letters, did you not one day lift
your head and see him?"
"On the promenade deck? Did he pass you when you sat in your deck-chair,
or did you pass him when he sat in his chair?"
Step by step Hanaud took her back to New York to her hotel, to journeys in
the train. Then he carried her to Milan where she had studied. It was
extraordinary to Ricardo to realise how much Hanaud knew of the curriculum of
a student aspiring to grand opera. From Milan he brought her again to New
York, and at the last, with a start of joy, she cried: "Yes, it was
Hanaud took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his forehead.
"Ouf!" he grunted. "To concentrate the mind on a day like this, it makes
one hot, I can tell you. Now, Miss Carew, let us hear."
It was at a concert at the house of a Mrs. Starlingshield in Fifth Avenue
and in the afternoon. Joan Carew sang. She was a stranger to New York and
very nervous. She saw nothing but a mist of faces whilst she sang, but when
she had finished the mist cleared, and as she left the improvised stage she
saw the man. He was standing against the wall in a line of men. There was no
particular reason why her eyes should single him out, except that he was
paying no attention to her singing, and, indeed, she forgot him altogether
"I just happened to see him clearly and distinctly," she said. "He was
tall, clean-shaven, rather dark, not particularly young--thirty-five or so, I
should say--a man with a heavy face and beginning to grow stout. He moved
away whilst I was bowing to the audience, and I noticed him afterwards
walking about, talking to people."
"Do you remember to whom?"
"Did he notice you, do you think?"
"I am sure he didn't," the girl replied emphatically. "He never looked at
the stage where I was singing, and he never looked towards me
She gave, so far as she could remember, the names of such guests and
singers as she knew at that party. "And that is all," she said.
"Thank you," said Hanaud. "It is perhaps a good deal. But it is perhaps
nothing at all."
"You will let me hear from you?" she cried, as she rose to her feet.
"Miss Carew, I am at your service," he returned. She gave him her hand
timidly and he took it cordially. For Mr. Ricardo she had merely a bow, a bow
which recognised that he distrusted her and that she had no right to be
offended. Then she went, and Hanaud smiled across the table at Ricardo.
"Yes," he said, "all that you are thinking is true enough. A man who slips
out of society to indulge a passion for a drug in greater peace, a girl who,
on her own confession, tried to steal, and, to crown all, this fantastic
story. It is natural to disbelieve every word of it. But we disbelieved
before, when we left Calladine's lodging in the Adelphi, and we were wrong.
Let us be warned."
"You have an idea?" exclaimed Ricardo.
"Perhaps!" said Hanaud. And he looked down the theatre column of the
Times. "Let us distract ourselves by going to the theatre."
"You are the most irritating man!" Mr. Ricardo broke out impulsively. "If
I had to paint your portrait, I should paint you with your finger against the
side of your nose, saying mysteriously: 'I know,' when you know
nothing at all."
Hanaud made a schoolboy's grimace. "We will go and sit in your box at the
opera to-night," he said, "and you shall explain to me all through the
beautiful music the theory of the tonic sol-fa."
They reached Covent Garden before the curtain rose. Mr. Ricardo's box was
on the lowest tier and next to the omnibus box.
"We are near the stage," said Hanaud, as he took his seat in the corner
and so arranged the curtain that he could see and yet was hidden from view.
"I like that."
The theatre was full; stalls and boxes shimmered with jewels and satin,
and all that was famous that season for beauty and distinction had made its
tryst there that night.
"Yes, this is wonderful," said Hanaud. "What opera do they play?" He
glanced at his programme and cried, with a little start of surprise: "We are
in luck. It is The Jewels of the Madonna."
"Do you believe in omens?" Mr. Ricardo asked coldly. He had not yet
recovered from his rebuff of the afternoon.
"No, but I believe that Carmen Valeri is at her best in this part," said
Mr. Ricardo belonged to that body of critics which must needs spoil your
enjoyment by comparisons and recollections of other great artists. He was at
a disadvantage certainly to-night, for the opera was new. But he did his
best. He imagined others in the part, and when the great scene came at the
end of the second act, and Carmen Valeri, on obtaining from her lover the
jewels stolen from the sacred image, gave such a display of passion as fairly
enthralled that audience, Mr. Ricardo sighed quietly and patiently.
"How Calvé would have brought out the psychological value of that scene!"
he murmured; and he was quite vexed with Hanaud, who sat with his opera
glasses held to his eyes, and every sense apparently concentrated on the
stage. The curtains rose and rose again when the act was concluded, and still
Hanaud sat motionless as the Sphynx, staring through his glasses.
"That is all," said Ricardo when the curtains fell for the fifth time.
"They will come out," said Hanaud. "Wait!" And from between the curtains
Carmen Valeri was led out into the full glare of the footlights with the
panoply of jewels flashing on her breast. Then at last Hanaud put down his
glasses and turned to Ricardo with a look of exultation and genuine delight
upon his face which filled that season-worn dilettante with envy.
"What a night!" said Hanaud. "What a wonderful night!" And he applauded
until he split his gloves. At the end of the opera he cried: "We will go and
take supper at the Semiramis. Yes, my friend, we will finish our evening like
gallant gentlemen. Come! Let us not think of the morning." And boisterously
he slapped Ricardo in the small of the back.
In spite of his boast, however, Hanaud hardly touched his supper, and he
played with, rather than drank, his brandy and soda. He had a little table to
which he was accustomed beside a glass screen in the depths of the room, and
he sat with his back to the wall watching the groups which poured in.
Suddenly his face lighted up.
"Here is Carmen Valeri!" he cried. "Once more we are in luck. Is it not
that she is beautiful?"
Mr. Ricardo turned languidly about in his chair and put up his
"So, so," he said.
"Ah!" returned Hanaud. "Then her companion will interest you still more.
For he is the man who murdered Mrs. Blumenstein."
Mr. Ricardo jumped so that his eyeglass fell down and tinkled on its cord
against the buttons of his waistcoat.
"What!" he exclaimed. "It's impossible!" He looked again. "Certainly the
man fits Joan Carew's description. But--" He turned back to Hanaud utterly
astounded. And as he looked at the Frenchman all his earlier recollections of
him, of his swift deductions, of the subtle imagination which his heavy body
so well concealed, crowded in upon Ricardo and convinced him.
"How long have you known?" he asked in a whisper of awe.
"Since ten o'clock to-night."
"But you will have to find the necklace before you can prove it."
"The necklace!" said Hanaud carelessly. "That is already found."
Mr. Ricardo had been longing for a thrill. He had it now. He felt it in
his very spine.
"It's found?" he said in a startled whisper.
Ricardo turned again, with as much indifference as he could assume,
towards the couple who were settling down at their table, the man with a
surly indifference, Carmen Valeri with the radiance of a woman who has just
achieved a triumph and is now free to enjoy the fruits of it. Confusedly,
recollections returned to Ricardo of questions put that afternoon by Hanaud
to Joan Carew--subtle questions into which the name of Carmen Valeri was
continually entering. She was a woman of thirty, certainly beautiful, with a
clear, pale face and eyes like the night.
"Then she is implicated too!" he said. What a change for her, he thought,
from the stage of Covent Garden to the felon's cell, from the gay supper-room
of the Semiramis, with its bright frocks and its babel of laughter, to the
silence and the ignominious garb of the workrooms in Aylesbury Prison!
"She!" exclaimed Hanaud; and in his passion for the contrasts of drama
Ricardo was almost disappointed. "She has nothing whatever to do with it. She
knows nothing. André Favart there--yes. But Carmen Valeri! She's as stupid as
an owl, and loves him beyond words. Do you want to know how stupid she is?
You shall know. I asked Mr. Clements, the director of the opera house, to
take supper with us, and here he is."
Hanaud stood up and shook hands with the director. He was of the world of
business rather than of art, and long experience of the ways of tenors and
prima-donnas had given him a good-humoured cynicism.
"They are spoilt children, all tantrums and vanity," he said, "and they
would ruin you to keep a rival out of the theatre."
He told them anecdote upon anecdote.
"And Carmen Valeri," Hanaud asked in a pause; "is she troublesome this
"Has been," replied Clements dryly. "At present she is playing at being
good. But she gave me a turn some weeks ago." He turned to Ricardo.
"Superstition's her trouble, and André Favart knows it. She left him behind
in America this spring."
"America!" suddenly cried Ricardo; so suddenly that Clements looked at him
"She was singing in New York, of course, during the winter," he returned.
"Well, she left him behind, and I was shaking hands with myself when he began
to deal the cards over there. She came to me in a panic. She had just had a
cable. She couldn't sing on Friday night. There was a black knave next to the
nine of diamonds. She wouldn't sing for worlds. And it was the first night of
The Jewels of the Madonna! Imagine the fix I was in!"
"What did you do?" asked Ricardo.
"The only thing there was to do," replied Clements with a shrug of the
shoulders. "I cabled Favart some money and he dealt the cards again. She came
to me beaming. Oh, she had been so distressed to put me in the cart! But what
could she do? Now there was a red queen next to the ace of hearts, so she
could sing without a scruple so long, of course, as she didn't pass a funeral
on the way down to the opera house. Luckily she didn't. But my money brought
Favart over here, and now I'm living on a volcano. For he's the greatest
scoundrel unhung. He never has a farthing, however much she gives him; he's a
blackmailer, he's a swindler, he has no manners and no graces, he looks like
a butcher and treats her as if she were dirt, he never goes near the opera
except when she is singing in this part, and she worships the ground he walks
on. Well, I suppose it's time to go."
The lights had been turned off, the great room was emptying. Mr. Ricardo
and his friends rose to go, but at the door Hanaud detained Mr. Clements, and
they talked together alone for some little while, greatly to Mr. Ricardo's
annoyance. Hanaud's good humour, however, when he rejoined his friend, was
enough for two.
"I apologise, my friend, with my hand on my heart. But it was for your
sake that I stayed behind. You have a meretricious taste for melodrama which
I deeply deplore, but which I mean to gratify. I ought to leave for Paris
to-morrow, but I shall not. I shall stay until Thursday." And he skipped upon
the pavement as they walked home to Grosvenor Square.
Mr. Ricardo bubbled with questions, but he knew his man. He would get no
answer to any one of them to-night. So he worked out the problem for himself
as he lay awake in his bed, and he came down to breakfast next morning
fatigued but triumphant. Hanaud was already chipping off the top of his egg
at the table.
"So I see you have found it all out, my friend," he said.
"Not all," replied Ricardo modestly, "and you will not mind, I am sure, if
I follow the usual custom and wish you a good morning."
"Not at all," said Hanaud. "I am all for good manners myself."
He dipped his spoon into his egg.
"But I am longing to hear the line of your reasoning."
Mr. Ricardo did not need much pressing.
"Joan Carew saw André Favart at Mrs. Starlingshield's party, and saw him
with Carmen Valeri. For Carmen Valeri was there. I remember that you asked
Joan for the names of the artists who sang, and Carmen Valeri was amongst
Hanaud nodded his head.
"No doubt Joan Carew noticed Carmen Valeri particularly, and so took
unconsciously into her mind an impression of the man who was with her, André
Favart--of his build, of his walk, of his type."
Again Hanaud agreed.
"She forgets the man altogether, but the picture remains latent in her
mind--an undeveloped film."
Hanaud looked up in surprise, and the surprise flattered Mr. Ricardo. Not
for nothing had he tossed about in his bed for the greater part of the
"Then came the tragic night at the Semiramis. She does not consciously
recognise her assailant, but she dreams the scene again and again, and by a
process of unconscious cerebration the figure of the man becomes familiar.
Finally she makes her début, is entertained at supper afterwards, and meets
once more Carmen Valeri."
"Yes, for the first time since Mrs. Starlingshield's party," interjected
"She dreams again, she remembers asleep more than she remembers when
awake. The presence of Carmen Valeri at her supper-party has its effect. By a
process of association, she recalls Favart, and the mask slips on the face of
her assailant. Some days later she goes to the opera. She hears Carmen Valeri
sing in The Jewels of the Madonna. No doubt the passion of her acting,
which I am more prepared to acknowledge this morning than I was last night,
affects Joan Carew powerfully, emotionally. She goes to bed with her head
full of Carmen Valeri, and she dreams not of Carmen Valeri, but of the man
who is unconsciously associated with Carmen Valeri in her thoughts. The mask
vanishes altogether. She sees her assailant now, has his portrait limned in
her mind, would know him if she met him in the street, though she does not
know by what means she identified him."
"Yes," said Hanaud. "It is curious the brain working while the body
sleeps, the dream revealing what thought cannot recall."
Mr. Ricardo was delighted. He was taken seriously.
"But of course," he said, "I could not have worked the problem out but for
you. You knew of André Favart and the kind of man he was."
"Yes. That is always my one little advantage. I know all the cosmopolitan
blackguards of Europe." His laughter ceased suddenly, and he brought his
clenched fist heavily down upon the table. "Here is one of them who will be
very well out of the world, my friend," he said very quietly, but there was a
look of force in his face and a hard light in his eyes which made Mr. Ricardo
For a few moments there was silence. Then Ricardo asked: "But have you
"Your two chief witnesses, Calladine and Joan Carew-- you said it
yourself--there are facts to discredit them. Will they be believed?"
"But they won't appear in the case at all," Hanaud said. "Wait, wait!" and
once more he smiled. "By the way, what is the number of Calladine's
Ricardo gave it, and Hanaud therefore wrote a letter. "It is all for your
sake, my friend," he said with a chuckle.
"Nonsense," said Ricardo. "You have the spirit of the theatre in your
"Well, I shall not deny it," said Hanaud, and he sent out the letter to
the nearest pillar-box.
Mr. Ricardo waited in a fever of impatience until Thursday came. At
breakfast Hanaud would talk of nothing but the news of the day. At luncheon
he was no better. The affair of the Semiramis Hotel seemed a thousand miles
from any of his thoughts. But at five o'clock he said as he drank his
"You know, of course, that we go to the opera to- night?"
"Yes. Do we?"
"Yes. Your young friend Calladine, by the way, will join us in your
"That is very kind of him, I am sure," said Mr. Ricardo.
The two men arrived before the rising of the curtain, and in the crowded
lobby a stranger spoke a few words to Hanaud, but what he said Ricardo could
not hear. They took their seats in the box, and Hanaud looked at his
"Ah! It is Il Ballo de Maschera to-night. We always seem to hit
upon something appropriate, don't we?"
Then he raised his eyebrows.
"Oh-o! Do you see that our pretty young friend, Joan Carew, is singing in
the rôle of the page? It is a showy part. There is a particular melody with a
long-sustained trill in it, as far as I remember."
Mr. Ricardo was not deceived by Hanaud's apparent ignorance of the opera
to be given that night and of the part Joan Carew was to take. He was,
therefore, not surprised when Hanaud added:
"By the way, I should let Calladine find it all out for himself."
Mr. Ricardo nodded sagely.
"Yes. That is wise. I had thought of it myself." But he had done nothing
of the kind. He was only aware that the elaborate stage-management in which
Hanaud delighted was working out to the desired climax, whatever that climax
might be. Calladine entered the box a few minutes later and shook hands with
"It was kind of you to invite me," he said and, very ill at ease, he took
a seat between them and concentrated his attention on the house as it filled
"There's the overture," said Hanaud. The curtains divided and were
festooned on either side of the stage. The singers came on in their turn; the
page appeared to a burst of delicate applause (Joan Carew had made a small
name for herself that season), and with a stifled cry Calladine shot back in
the box as if he had been struck. Even then Mr. Ricardo did not understand.
He only realised that Joan Carew was looking extraordinarily trim and smart
in her boy's dress. He had to look from his programme to the stage and back
again several times before the reason of Calladine's exclamation dawned on
him. When it did, he was horrified. Hanaud, in his craving for dramatic
effects, must have lost his head altogether. Joan Carew was wearing, from the
ribbon in her hair to the scarlet heels of her buckled satin shoes, the same
dress as she had worn on the tragic night at the Semiramis Hotel. He leaned
forward in his agitation to Hanaud.
"You must be mad. Suppose Favart is in the theatre and sees her. He'll be
over on the Continent by one in the morning."
"No, he won't," replied Hanaud. "For one thing, he never comes to Covent
Garden unless one opera, with Carmen Valeri in the chief part, is being
played, as you heard the other night at supper. For a second thing, he isn't
in the house. I know where he is. He is gambling in Dean Street, Soho. For a
third thing, my friend, he couldn't leave by the nine o'clock train for the
Continent if he wanted to. Arrangements have been made. For a fourth thing,
he wouldn't wish to. He has really remarkable reasons for desiring to stay in
London. But he will come to the theatre later. Clements will send him an
urgent message, with the result that he will go straight to Clements' office.
Meanwhile, we can enjoy ourselves, eh?"
Never was the difference between the amateur dilettante and the genuine
professional more clearly exhibited than by the behaviour of the two men
during the rest of the performance. Mr. Ricardo might have been sitting on a
coal fire from his jumps and twistings; Hanaud stolidly enjoyed the music,
and when Joan Carew sang her famous solo his hands clamoured for an encore
louder than anyone's in the boxes. Certainly, whether excitement was keeping
her up or no, Joan Carew had never sung better in her life. Her voice was
clear and fresh as a bird's--a bird with a soul inspiring its song. Even
Calladine drew his chair forward again and sat with his eyes fixed upon the
stage and quite carried out of himself. He drew a deep breath at the end.
"She is wonderful," he said, like a man waking up.
"She is very good," replied Mr. Ricardo, correcting Calladine's
"We will go round to the back of the stage," said Hanaud.
They passed through the iron door and across the stage to a long corridor
with a row of doors on one side. There were two or three men standing about
in evening dress, as if waiting for friends in the dressing-rooms. At the
third door Hanaud stopped and knocked. The door was opened by Joan Carew,
still dressed in her green and gold. Her face was troubled, her eyes
"Courage, little one," said Hanaud, and he slipped past her into the room.
"It is as well that my ugly, familiar face should not be seen too soon."
The door closed and one of the strangers loitered along the corridor and
spoke to a call-boy. The call-boy ran off. For five minutes more Mr. Ricardo
waited with a beating heart. He had the joy of a man in the centre of things.
All those people driving homewards in their motor-cars along the Strand--how
he pitied them! Then, at the end of the corridor, he saw Clements and André
Favart. They approached, discussing the possibility of Carmen Valeri's
appearance in London opera during the next season.
"We have to look ahead, my dear friend," said Clements, "and though I
should be extremely sorry----"
At that moment they were exactly opposite Joan Carew's door. It opened,
she came out; with a nervous movement she shut the door behind her. At the
sound André Favart turned, and he saw drawn up against the panels of the
door, with a look of terror in her face, the same gay figure which had
interrupted him in Mrs. Blumenstein's bedroom. There was no need for Joan to
act. In the presence of this man her fear was as real as it had been on the
night of the Semiramis ball. She trembled from head to foot. Her eyes closed;
she seemed about to swoon.
Favart stared and uttered an oath. His face turned white; he staggered
back as if he had seen a ghost. Then he made a wild dash along the corridor,
and was seized and held by two of the men in evening dress. Favart recovered
his wits. He ceased to struggle.
"What does this outrage mean?" he asked, and one of the men drew a warrant
and notebook from his pocket.
"You are arrested for the murder of Mrs. Blumenstein in the Semiramis
Hotel," he said, "and I have to warn you that anything you may say will be
taken down and may be used in evidence against you."
"Preposterous!" exclaimed Favart. "There's a mistake. We will go along to
the police and put it right. Where's your evidence against me?"
Hanaud stepped out of the doorway of the dressing-room.
"In the property-room of the theatre," he said.
At the sight of him Favart uttered a violent cry of rage. "You are here,
too, are you?" he screamed, and he sprang at Hanaud's throat. Hanaud stepped
lightly aside. Favart was borne down to the ground, and when he stood up
again the handcuffs were on his wrists.
Favart was led away, and Hanaud turned to Mr. Ricardo and Clements.
"Let us go to the property-room," he said. They passed along the corridor,
and Ricardo noticed that Calladine was no longer with them. He turned and saw
him standing outside Joan Carew's dressing-room.
"He would like to come, of course," said Ricardo.
"Would he?" asked Hanaud. "Then why doesn't he? He's quite grown up, you
know," and he slipped his arm through Ricardo's and led him back across the
stage. In the property-room there was already a detective in plain clothes.
Mr. Ricardo had still not as yet guessed the truth.
"What is it you really want, sir?" the property- master asked of the
"Only the jewels of the Madonna," Hanaud answered.
The property-master unlocked a cupboard and took from it the sparkling
cuirass. Hanaud pointed to it, and there, lost amongst the huge glittering
stones of paste and false pearls, Mrs. Blumenstein's necklace was
"Then that is why Favart came always to Covent Garden when The Jewels
of the Madonna was being performed!" exclaimed Ricardo.
"He came to watch over his treasure."
Ricardo was piecing together the sections of the puzzle.
"No doubt he knew of the necklace in America. No doubt he followed it to
"Mrs. Blumenstein's jewels were quite famous in New York."
"But to hide them here!" cried Mr. Clements. "He must have been mad."
"Why?" asked Hanaud. "Can you imagine a safer hiding-place? Who is going
to burgle the property-room of Covent Garden? Who is going to look for a
priceless string of pearls amongst the stage jewels of an opera house?"
"You did," said Mr. Ricardo.
"I?" replied Hanaud, shrugging his shoulders. "Joan Carew's dreams led me
to André Favart. The first time we came here and saw the pearls of the
Madonna, I was on the look-out, naturally. I noticed Favart at the back of
the stalls. But it was a stroke of luck that I noticed those pearls through
my opera glasses."
"At the end of the second act?" cried Ricardo suddenly. "I remember
"Yes," replied Hanaud. "But for that second act the pearls would have
stayed comfortably here all through the season. Carmen Valeri--a fool as I
told you--would have tossed them about in her dressing-room without a notion
of their value, and at the end of July, when the murder at the Semiramis
Hotel had been forgotten, Favart would have taken them to Amsterdam and made
"Shall we go?"
They left the theatre together and walked down to the grill- room of the
Semiramis. But as Hanaud looked through the glass door he drew back.
"We will not go in, I think, eh?"
"Why?" asked Ricardo.
Hanaud pointed to a table. Calladine and Joan Carew were seated at it
taking their supper.
"Perhaps," said Hanaud with a smile, "perhaps, my friend--what? Who shall
say that the rooms in the Adelphi will not be given up?"
They turned away from the hotel. But Hanaud was right, and before the
season was over Mr. Ricardo had to put his hand in his pocket for a wedding